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Christmas Gift Guide

Make yourself comfy

The reference design

Ready? Let's scan

Rotate

What it means for you

Kids these days

Extra circuitry

3D object scans

The robot room

Robot arm

Close up

Keep a human on hand

Artificial intelligence smarts

Smart sorting

What is this?

Photos, too

More tags

Face detection

Handwriting recognition

Overlay

The making of cutting-edge camera features and tools starts here, in Qualcomm's photo and imaging lab, where teams test computer vision and artificial intelligence.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Engineering vice president Serafin Diaz shows off the reference tablet that Qualcomm mocked up for testing and perfecting 3D scanning of the living room.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Diaz starts panning around the room, watching the shaded portions fill in. Depth sensors give this software its 3D capabilities.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

A bluish tint shows the scan's progress (this takes time). Meanwhile, Diaz shows how he can rotate the model within the interface. If you miss a spot, you can go back.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Scans of interiors are accurate, Diaz says, which makes this type of program ideal for remodeling and other architectural work.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

"Kids are three-dimensionally-aware," Diaz said. "I believe the next generation is going to demand these kinds of features on their mobile devices."

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

It isn't pretty, but you can see the mods that help make this demo work on a Qualcomm chip.

Even if a device has a Qualcomm chip to support 3D imaging like this, electronics makers will have to decide if they want to use the features in their products.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

This next demo scans the space for planes, like walls and tabletops. It can then compute the volume of objects in the space, which would be ideal for a device like a robot to have, so it can interact with those objects or avoid them.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

You can't rely on humans to test algorithms, Diaz said.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

You need precise, repeatable motions. Hence, this robotic arm, which follows a set of complex directions to test 3D tracking.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The robot in question wields a smartphone in its clutches.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The labs' human occupants still maintain override control and perform some individual tests as well.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Zeroth sounds like a comic book villain, but is actually a platform for running AI imaging functions.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

This gallery is really cool. You can find photos by attributes such as clouds, sunrises, indoor, party -- all from the device. The gallery won't waste time consulting the cloud.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The camera can look at live objects, like these flowers, and adjust settings to take the best photo. It also automatically tags the images.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

In addition to accurately describing real-life objects, this Zeroth camera can break down photos of scenes as well.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The tags on this picture are easier to see: car, outdoors, no people. Well, maybe it needs a little more work. Remember, this is still a demo. The final version will tag in the background.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

The camera will also try to auto-tag people it knows by faces it sees, meaning that you can search photos by looking for a person's name.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Optical character recognition is a tough nut to crack. This one reads and converts handwriting, not just printed text.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Converted text overlays the original handwritten note here. You can slide your finger to see both views. Imagine taking a photo of a whiteboard, then later searching through the digitized text.

Want more? See how magnetic fields make wireless charging a whole lot cooler.

Caption by / Photo by Jessica Dolcourt/CNET
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